Virginia Attorney General Anthony F. Troy, a member of a suburban Richmond country club that recently rejected the membership applications of two black families, has protested the club's action as "contrary to the thinking of a vast majority of modern-day Virginians."
Troy was one of the Salisbury Country Club members who wrote its board of directors protesting the rejection of professional football player Willie Lanier and dentist Thomas J. Wright and their families since the decision was disclosed last week. He asked the board to reconsider its decision. As for continuing his membership, Troy said, "I doubt I would" if the board refuses to reconsider.
The Associated Press reported that the Wrights and the Laniers were rejected June 28 when the board voted 3 to 4 not to accept them. Club rules require that applications be approved unanimously.
All questions on the matter are being referred to the club president, Thomas J. Hampton, who said. "This is a private country club and a private matter.We have no further comment." He refused to say whether the club has any black members or how many people are on the board.
Barbara Wright said her family moved into their "dream" house in the affluent subdivision of Salisbury about two months ago. They chose to build there, she said, partly because of the proximity of the club, where Wright could play tennis and she and their children could swim.
Mrs. Wright said she was told that "nothing negative" about either family was said during the board meeting June 28.
"They (supporters of the black families' membership) were outraged," Mrs. Wright said. "They broke the news to us as gently as possible, but they said it was nothing but race prejudice."
There are no black members of the country club now, according to other members, and Mrs. Wright said a friend told her blacks were not allowed in even as guests until a few years ago. Memberships cost between $725 and $1,225 and each applicant must have two sponsors. As with most country clubs, members pay a monthly fee according to how much they use the club.
"It's the worst slap in the face we've ever had," said Mrs. Wright, who, like her husband, grew up in Richmond. In 1969, he was one of the first black graduates of the Medical College of Virginia, she said, but experienced no racial harassment then. "This is a custom-built house - so much planning went into it. It's like having a baby. But now some of the nostalgia we have for it has been sort of spoiled."
Lanier, a former all-pro middle linebacker who plays for the Kansas City Chiefs, works in the off-season as assistant director of labor relations for Philip Morris, Inc., in Richmond.
Lanier told the Associated Press he probably will try again to gain admission. "If I stopped when people told me not to go any further, I would never have played line backer in the (National Football League). When I broke in there weren't any black middle linebackers. People said it was a white man's position."
Salisbury is an affluent suburb in Chesterfield County. Homes cost from $100,000 to $200,000. Country club members do not have to be residents of Salisbury, Hampton said. He said he did not know how many applicants for membership the club gets annually but other members said it has been seeking new members. Several whites were accepted at the same meeting at which the blacks were rejected.
"The people out here are not rednecks," Mrs. Wright said. "Since we moved in the neighbors have been lovely to us, inviting us to barbecues and over to swim in their pools. But I guess some of the whites here are ignorant - they just don't know anything about black people so they vote to keep them out . . . I cannot begin to tell you how I felt when I found out . . . I was shocked that they could be so prejudiced in 1977."
She said her family wanted to join the country club because "owning a nice house in the suburbs and belonging to the country club is part of the American Dream."
Hampton, asked if he was prejudiced against blacks, said, "I most certainly am not. But I am speaking for myself and not the club."
Charles Howell Jr., president of the Richmond chapter of the NAACP told the AP the club's action is an example of current discrimination against black people. "People beguile themselves," Howell said. "It's really subtle, it's not overt, but it's there . . . The full pendulum has not swung just because you have economic security. You're still black."